Why The Neutralist? The term Isolationist implies a narrow Fortress America outlook and is used as an epithet. The term Neutralist does not indicate someone hiding out from the world. No one calls the Swiss isolationists. The Wilsonian world view is old, tired and wrong. Our interventions have been less and less successful and now the failure can no longer be covered up.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
Anyway, unlike the last time, I don't think we're calling it kindness. Rather we portray it as part of the War on Terror. You see, Somalia was a mess, with all kinds of cutthroat militias cutting throats in the Mogadishu area. Then religion reared its ugly head in the name of Islamic Courts. Religion was real tricky this time because its ugly head looked downright appealing to the locals. This may have been because instead of someone losing his head when he wouldn't payoff a thief, the thief lost his hand when the courts took up the case. Anyway, if you are surprised that we are now bosom buddies with the militias who used to be the problem but now are the solution, you haven't really been paying attention. After all, we were once very friendly with the late what's his name.
We had fought the cutthroat militias years before. We did it by sending some of our boys to hang out there. Rather, to be hung out there. After the Blackhawk Down debacle, President Clinton realized there was no point and bugged out. Whatever one wants to say about the man, he was no fool in his own interest and when he smelled no personal upside, he was gone in the same way Ronald Reagan moved out sharply from Lebanon. The two of them knew when the doctrine of sunk costs applied to politics and war.
So the theory is that stopping the Islamic Courts will stop Al Qaeda from using Somalia in the war on the Great Satan. If the Abyssinians had not taken Mogadishu, why right this minutes Osama's carrier fleet and troop transports would be getting ready to dock and resupply for the next leg of their voyage to invade and destroy America, the home of the crusaders. Yep, that's the way of it.
The truth of it is that if we are to suffer at home from jihad, it will be because we let jihadists come here like the last big surprise. If we cut ourselves off from the source of holy warriors they will kill each other much the way enlightened Euros killed each other in the two intramural matches that took place in the first half of the twentieth century. It will probably not be as organized, but then, you have to be highly civilized to slaughter efficiently.
Friday, December 22, 2006
"“isolationism” means a reluctance to travel a long distance to kill foreigners at great expense. I say, let’s have some of that."
We like. We take. We Change:
Part of the definition of Neutralism consists of a refusal to travel a long distance to kill foreigners at great expense for vague and non existent purposes.
Mr. Henley concerned not only with the war, but he has been consistent in being unstupid about it.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Well, the The Independent has an article about a British diplomat who informed Downing Street that there were no WMDs in Iraq.
I am shocked
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Of course, how worthy a mistake it was is a question we are not able to put to the soldiers who are now beyond answering.
I'm sorry, I was against this war from the beginning. I knew it was a fraud from well before day one. How you may ask could a nobody from a backwater know such a thing. I was born and raised in a state unexcelled for its culture of corruption. Politicians from Louisiana could learn a few tricks. A lot of it is done without any bribery. No, it is done much more smoothly. first, someone starts mentioning un met needs. Then, the newspapers have articles that morph the un met need into a crisis. State reps and senators start using phrases like " we need to do it for the children" and "the kids are our future." Soon enough there is a new state agency and cronies are being hired all over the place.
It was a little bit different with the war drumbeat. First, we have Iraq mentioned as part of the Axis of Evil. Then, do we remember the Anthrax scare? I do. I remember pundits hot for action, for others of course. As I live up on a hill, I can get Boston stations on the car radio. One talk show host, Jay Severin was shilling for the war big time. One afternoon he breathlessly intoned that it was reported that the anthrax involved in the letters had the footprint of an Iraqi lab and that if it did have that footprint, then, "We are at war with Iraq." Cut to a break.
The anthrax scare faded away but the drumbeat continued. I remember some peacenik type acquaintances talking about going down to New York for a march and hearing them hopeful about stopping the juggernaut. I remember telling them that the people who want the war, can have the war and that is that. Of course that was discounted, but that is life. If common sense had ever prevailed in this country, the slogan would have been, Forget the Maine. Contriving a war has a history here.
Some of the propaganda was so obviously stupid that it embarrasses me as an American to think it was said and quoted. Condoleeza Rice's remark about the smoking gun turning out to be a mushroom cloud was, maybe, the worst. A few unfortunates might have believed that Iraq was somewhat near the bomb, but no one suggested they had any inkling of a delivery system. So, Condi, how were they to get it to a target? "Quick Achmed, get it on to the donkey cart, we will get it on a cargo ship as part of a shipment of dates and when it gets to New York Harbor, it gets set off. I volunteer you, Achmed, for this important mission."
Let me admit, I am for cutting and running. Jonah is not. In one of the dumbest analogies ever he writes, A doctor will warn that if you see a man stabbed in the chest, you shouldn’t rush to pull the knife out. So, Jonah probably feels that if you wander into a burning house, you should make yourself a cup of tea, sit down and drink it while reading the paper rather than rushing out. Of course Jonah forgets to mention that stabbing was a self inflicted wound.
There is no winning in Iraq. We don't have an enemy from whom we can take the surrender ala the Japanese on the Missouri, or Lee at Appomattox. We don't even have an enemy we could surrender to if we wanted to. So, we are going to leave eventually. If anyone reading thinks staying in an unwinnable war is worth it, maybe you will volunteer to explain it to the next of kin of the men who will be killed until we finally say au revoir. Heck, explain it to me. No, cutting and running is the plan, now or later, whether under Bush, President Hillary or President McCain.
Of course, Jonah has a plan.
"According to the conventional script, if I’m not saying “bug out” of Iraq, I’m supposed to say “stay the course.” But there’s a third option, and, funnily enough, I found it in an old column of mine (journalistic taboos be damned!). I think we should ask the Iraqis to vote on whether U.S. troops should stay.
Polling suggests that they want us to go. But polling absent consequences is a form of protest. With accountability, minds may change and appreciation for the U.S. presence might grow.
If Iraqis voted “stay,” we’d have a mandate to do what’s necessary to win, and our ideals would be reaffirmed. If they voted “go,” our values would also be reaffirmed, and we could leave with honor. And pretty much everyone would have to accept democracy as the only legitimate expression of national will.
Finishing the job is better than leaving a mess. And if we can finish the job, the war won’t be remembered as a mistake."
Okay, so they vote and say stay and we fight it out for twenty years and thousands of casualties. So, how will the war not be remembered as a mistake. They can vote now by universal support for our mission if they wanted to, but they don't, or not enough of them do.
No, cut and run. Tell Jonah admitting denial is the first step (it is, isn't it?).
Is there no other way. Well, there is one other way. Mind you, I don't endorse it. Still, I believe it recognizes the reality of Iraq. The land between the Tigris and Euphrates is where big government was invented, not to mention cynicism regarding big government. These people will never buy the we are here for you, let's spread democracy, by the way are there sufficient women in your graduate petro engineering classes silliness. They know what works and we are spreading something else.
Before we invaded Iraq was either a perfectly good dysfunctional country or a horribly bad functional country. There was reasonable freedom of religion and hospitals and schools functioned. Our sanctions distorted the economy, but at least there was an economy. It is not a good model, but in some form or other it is what works there.
I know what you're thinking. Yes, I know he has had a rest and is bored with the trial, but no. Saddam can suffer whatever court structure they have there can hand him. We are not going to help him no matter how many times he shows that picture with his buddy Don Rumsfeld.
What we need to do is find the smartest, toughest guy in the country. I would throw one other criterion into the mix. I would want us to look for the most decent smartest, toughest guy in the country. It should be made clear to him he has a country to run and all we ask is he just run it. We would like to buy some gas when he has cowed the country into some semblance of order, but he needs fear nothing as long as he does not bother us.
Actually, we should just bug out. We'll screw up this selection process as well.
No matter what the boy thinks, it was not a "worthy mistake." It was just a dumb war and it won't get any smarter.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Mr. Stooksbury's comment is greatly to the point.
"I have read and heard much about the aggressive designs of Islam in the last few years and generally believe it to be true; but I have noticed that most of the actual aggressing -- the dispatching of invading armies and ships, planes and missiles have gone in the other direction. Osama bin Laden became a problem for the United States after we established bases in Saudi Arabia. The Bush administration's response to bin Laden's mass murder of Americans was to make a token effort to attack him in Afghanistan and then launch and invasion of Iraq. The crowd that supported that invasion is now calling for war against Iran. There are numerous justifications for our foreign policy -- spreading democracy, access to oil, enhancing the self-esteem of neocons -- protecting Elbans is not among them."
Another failure of Interventionism.
"Noninterventionism is not isolationism. Nonintervention simply means America does not interfere militarily, financially, or covertly in the internal affairs of other nations. It does not we that we isolate ourselves; on the contrary, our founders advocated open trade, travel, communication, and diplomacy with other nations. "
The whole piece is worth a read.
The Neutralist will try to link to sites it deems to be generally sympathetic to non interventionism.
We reserve the right to link because someone had one article or even a part of an article or post we liked.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Anyway, as Clemenceau said, "War is too important to be left to the generals." Unless, we are going to give it all over to the military, we have to understand that this is so, for good and ill. We also have to understand some aspects of our current problems. The generals did not want the wars. Remember Madeline Albright saying, "“What good is it having the most powerful military in the world if you don’t use it." It was civilians who pushed Iraq. The Generals are happy to build the machine, but do not want to risk it and see it suffer the inevitable degradation of real operations. Oh, a Delta Force raid here and there, maybe, to test the toys, but, saints preserve us from a long war. This is something about democratic armies that de Tocqueville touched on. Sooner or later, the politicians are going to want to use it.
So, how do you have an army and not have a war. Let us cast about for an example of a democracy that does not start wars and does not get invaded. And the winner is; Switzerland. Now I do not know what the congressman from NYC was proposing in detail, but if it was the system in place previously, that is not what will work. That system of deferments insured that few from even slightly privileged backgrounds ever woke up at the reception station.
No, in Switzerland, everyone (male) goes. No deferral for someone just because he got 750 verbal. Everyone goes.* If that were so here, attitudes might change. Say, if Glenn Reynolds had to have learned the pleasures of low crawling, would he have backed sending others to die. And if his unit were being called up? Indeed!
So the Swiss know that they will all be called up in an emergency. That has the effect of limiting the number of emergencies that Swiss politicians find it necessary to respond to. Especially as the politicians will be donning their uniforms as well.
As someone who is somewhat libertarian, conscription is not something I endorse, but if you don't want war, this is one way to avoid it. Still, everyone, and I mean everyone, going to defend the nation in a real emergency is far less odious to me than the fascist national service proposals that the Dems are always floating.
I grant we would have a better army with volunteers. I think it possible universal service may be the ruin of the army as our youth appear to be self absorbed and semi-literate. Still, I am as willing to risk it as Bill Bennett, JPod, Frank Gaffney, Max Boot et al were willing to risk the lives of men not their sons.
Lest anyone think that the thought of actually facing service in a real war made the Switzers a bunch of wimps, one only need to glimpse the general order issued by their leader, General Henri Guisan during World War II when they might have faced invasion, ''Everywhere, where the order is to hold, it is the duty of conscience of each fighter, even if he depends on himself alone, to fight at his assigned position. The riflemen, if overtaken or surrounded, fight in their position until no more ammunition exists. Then cold steel is next. ... The machine gunners, the cannoneers of heavy weapons, the artillerymen, if in the bunker or on the field, do not abandon or destroy their weapons, or allow the enemy to seize them. Then the crews fight further like riflemen. As long as a man has another cartridge or hand weapons to use, he does not yield. ..." The order also commanded the men to consider a government broadcast of surrender as enemy propaganda. Would the nation stand to the end? Apparently, the Germans thought so.
*One can bring up the case of Israel where everyone goes and the arguments pro and con are for another day. I recommend Defending Israel by Martin Van Creveld .
Remember the heady days after 911. Well, I do, but how clearly? Good question. I'm having more and more senior moments all the time. I remember the general tone being, "We gotta get those bastards." So we started bombing Afghanistan and cooperating with the Northern Alliance, a group of freedom loving patriots who quoted from the collected works of Bill Bennett. With our air support, they turned the flank. We sent troops in and chased the remnants of the Taliban out and installed a government and freed women and all that. Noble stuff.
It was all a waste. All of it. We did not get the self confessed mastermind of every bad thing that has happened to us. That evil Taliban is back. What people forget is that the Taliban was not defeated. They retired in good order. Certainly good enough order that they were able to regroup and return to battle. Not only that it looks like Round 15 of a 15 rounder and what looked in the early rounds like a mismatch with that big lanky guy from the West landing a few roundhouse rights has changed. That cagey boy from the East got on his bicycle and just circled around, landing a jab here and there, staying out of reach, while wearing the big guy down. In the final round, the betting has shifted, big time. This is how the Afghan Kid has won all his fights, seemingly a pushover in the early going then coming back later on. And, he has won all his fights (maybe the contretemps with Big Alex can be called a draw, but that's about it).
But of course, this time it was going to be different. Right. Anyone who thought the GIs giving out nylon stockings and chocolate thing was going to work this time was nuts. Actually, all that ranting about "United we stand" was little more than the raging of a drunk in a bar. Trust me, it's been a long time, but it's a subject I know something about.
So, I can hear no one say, though they might, what would have been your great plan, smart guy. Well that's the thing. I have no illusions about my genius, but all too many of my country's leaders do. If, by some bizzare circumstance, I had been invited I would have laid out the options thus, "Scenario one, we can invade that country and try to capture bin Laden. To do it right so that he can never come back if he escapes, it will take hundreds of thousands of troops and several decades to change the culture and more likely our culture will change. Oh, we will probably leave without actually effecting the desired change. Scenario two, I would withdraw all our troops from overseas and secure our borders.
So by now, if you are awake, you are saying, does this guy want to just give the terrorists a pass? No, I want to win. This is hardly seems what our foreign policy wonks want, as even still they appear to be hell bent in desiring to take us into one labyrinth after another.
The most intelligent strategy I have ever heard was best explained in a letter to the Antiwar.com letters page years ago. It was posted by George D. of the UK, "the terrorists could have been hunted one-by-one by having a special task force that deals with it, like Israel did in hunting the Nazi war criminals, without going to war with the country that provided shelter for them." Of course such a policy would need focus over a long term and could not be a TV war and no party out of power would have been able to resist accusing the administration of doing nothing.
No, the Afghan thing will continue on until the inevitable and like the Brits and Russians, we shall leave, maybe with some face saving fig leaf, but we shall leave.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
What is hoped? That the idea of neutralism will be noticed and that the concept of Wilsonian Internationalism will be seen as the failure it is. That at least a core group will form that will support the idea and spread it in blogs, articles and conversation. To get even that far would be near miraculous.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
America's greatest 20th century victory Indeed, the only one
Indeed, the only one
Every now and then someone on a talk show or in print will ramble on about how we lost in Viet Nam. Some act of cowardice or stab in the back is regretted, blah blah blah. I wish to dispute the idea that we lost "nam." If one truly reflects, the U.S. Army's ten year Southeast Asian Field Training Exercise that ended in the nineteen seventies was our only victory of the last century. Yes, yes, everyone is saying to themselves, "What is he talking about?" Well, folks, wise up, we lost all the other ones. Our friends and enemies alike bled us and continue to bleed us dry over conflicts that supposedly we were victorious in or at least managed a tie.
Now, granted we might not all agree on what constitutes a win. In order to set the tone, let us define terms.
The Agamemnon School of Victory: This consists of completely destroying your enemy, grabbing a lot of plunder and a great looking slave babe. After that, you go home to be murdered by your wife and her toy boy. It is only the last part that I think needs work.
The American Century School: After victory or tie, hunker down, rebuild the place, never leave.
The Neutralist School: After the war, you can leave and forget about the place you left.
Believe me, I used to accept the conventional wisdom of our defeat. I remember being on active duty on the day the cease-fire went into effect and hearing the lieutenant in charge of our section sarcastically call it HPVN Day: Honorable Peace in Vietnam Day. I remember the collapse of the South's regime and thinking how it had all gone down the drain. It had, it was a waste, but that was the end of it.
Therein was our victory. Had the North given up the fight, we would still have troops and planes and PXs and condom dispensing machines all over South Viet Nam. We would have brass on the border taking meetings ad infinitum with the North's officers. We would be forever rebuilding the South. Heck, the North would by now have cozied up enough to us running dogs to get some aid, as in the North Korean nuclear blackmail scam. Swiss banks would be awash in skimmed cash from all the associated boondoggles.
Ah, but that was not the case. When the last of our boys left, we were gone. We had bled buckets and lost untold treasure, but, when we finally said au revoir, it was over. We even had a measure of revenge as Hanoi had its own Viet Nam in Cambodia.
Compare our "defeat" with our "victories," (not to mention "ties" and "incompletes" like Haiti). There was WWI, The Great War. I've wondered about that name, "The Great War." It is doubtful that the lads who spent all those years in the trenches would have thought it so great. We got into it because the president at the time, Wilson, wanted to "make the world safe for democracy" by fighting "the war to end all wars." Now sober reflection - an endeavor, I used to avoid like the plague - would tell one that such comments were moronic. Certainly, history has proved Mr. Wilson wrong. Still, it led our country to send enough men over to pull the Allies' chestnuts out of the fire. Wilson, fresh from a rhetorically successful Mexican adventure gave a war message that went something like this, "Oceania is at war with Eurasia. Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia." No, well close enough.
Did our country get anything out of this? Of course: war dead, left where we had no compelling national interest. Worse, while our troops were overseas, the early twentieth century version of the soccer moms managed to slip through a constitutional amendment prohibiting the sale and use of alcohol. In a way, this brought about a continuation of World War I on the home front (Let me digress a second, religious Jews were allowed wine for certain holidays. I can see the handwriting on the wall. Maybe someone will want to join me in starting a new religion with bacon and other high cholesterol foods as sacraments so we can be ready when the health Nazis ban them.)
There were other results from that "Great War" including Hitler. Yes folks, without Woody, Dolph would have probably spent his declining years raving in a Bavarian old soldiers' home. By demonizing Kaiser Bill and getting rid of the Imperial German Government we insured instability in Germany. Maybe an Allied victory did not lead to Hitler in an algebraic equation (Allied victory + German defeat = Hitler) but it is impossible to imagine the Third Reich, the holocaust, etc. had the Kaiser stayed in power after a peace of exhaustion.
While we are on the subject, would a German victory without our participation, have been all that bad? Yeah, they would have made a few annexations and would have tried to order trade to their liking. Sorta like what they're trying to do today in the era of the Euro.
In the inter war period (that is, between the big wars) we had adventures in Haiti and Nicaragua that brought peace and stability forever (yes, Nurse, I'll take my medication now)...
Now, class, let us look at World War II. The record shows that we were attacked by Japan whereupon Germany brilliantly declared war on us. There will always be controversy as to whether we pushed the Japanese into attacking us and intended to be in the war. Suffice it to say, I will not debate the issue and will display my maturity by stating a belief that the American and Japanese elites both suffered a temporary lack of humility that led them both into an inevitable and unwanted misunderstanding.
Though we took the surrenders, let us not claim a victory. We ended up supporting our allies and our enemies. We really did not want Japan and Germany rearming so we generously managed their defenses. The American Army became the Japanese Army. The U.S. Air Force served as the Luftwaffe. Those countries, freed from huge defense expenditures, had "economic miracles" that allowed pundits to tell us we should be doing what they were doing. (There are few American intellectuals so poor, that they don't own an inferiority complex about something.) Of course, that advice is no longer given today.
Eventually, by "containing" the Soviet Union" we were able to see it collapse. Now that should have been victory. We should have said to our NATO buddies, Okay, guys and girls, we're taking off, you have a few years to work out your modus vivendi for the next millennium, but, you're on your own. How naive such a sentiment is. No, all those bureaucrats out of work, Pentagon planners with nothing to plan, a president who couldn't refer to himself as "Leader of the Free World" (granted it doesn't have the ring of Dux et Imperator, but we do still pretend to be a republic. It will take awhile before even "Princeps" appears). So we have our cold war commitment, without a cold war. Our defeat continues.
On the other side of the world, there was Korea, an incomplete. The Communist Bloc doesn't really exist, yet North Korea is holding its own. This is amazing in that they are spending nothing on anything, if only because they have nothing to spend and their people are starving to death. Meanwhile, we hold the line with Seoul.
There are a few other items including but not limited to Haiti and Nicaragua again. See above, and, give me a larger dose this time, please.
We are all proud of how we ejected the Iraqis from that wonderful just and good democracy of Kuwait and ended the evil reign of . . . what's that, we're still bombing? Oops.
We have had success in the Balkans. We put a cop on the beat in Bosnia promised for one year. Of course, "one year" was like the question did creation take seven days as we know them or could each of those days have meant untold ages. I am no theologian, so I have no business discussing biblical chronology. Merely note that one year is going to last a long time. World War One started in Sarajevo and was so much fun, we just have to fight it again. Mr. Cohan should have written: "We're staying, we're staying over and we won't be back forever."
And of course Kossovo was another bada boom, bada bing, hurl a few bombs and go home. Nope, taxpayers are going to foot the bills until Camp Bondsteel becomes an archeological site. Obviously, I've left out a few of our successes like Panama and Grenada. Well, I haven't any knowledge of their current situation, but maybe we just left them alone after we were done and are spending no money on them at all and we merely bask in their gratitude. Maybe not.
So, as we are about to start the second year of the new millennium while continuing all the foreign adventures of the last century as well as a forever war on terrorism, let us remember, our boys overseas. On patrol for us from the Maldives to Pristina, from Seoul to Berlin as well as Kabul, but not Saigon. Where is George McGovern? Wake him up at the Home for Failed Presidential Candidates. Let's say it again, George: "Come home, America."
And if you have any doubts about the Viet Nam victory thesis, let the record show that no one even remotely connects the Hanoi regime with 9-11.